The Soundhouse at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

The University of Sheffield’s state-of-the-art music practice and studio facility, the Soundhouse, is now complete. The striking development, conceptually designed by Carey Jones architects and delivered by Jefferson Sheard Architects, is completely enveloped in black rubber – a technique never seen before in the UK.

The Soundhouse United Kingdom

Covering 450 sq m and three storeys in height, the building’s unique black cube structure is set to become a landmark on the university campus, the bold and simple design reflecting the existing inventiveness of the Portobello area.

To create this effect it was necessary to vulcanise the rubber sheets off-site which involved welding 1500mm-wide sheets together to form a single homogenous sheet, with dimensions of 14m x 8m. There were to be four in total, one for each elevation of the building. Each sheet weighed half a ton and a safe system of works was devised for their installation and final fix to the external structure.

The Soundhouse, Sheffield, United Kingdom

The rubber membrane was placed under tension similar to the skin on a drum, fixed and then decorated with 100mm diameter stainless steel studs. These studs were adjustable and could be screwed back to the reinforcing plates behind the insulation and rubber quilt, thus compressing the insulation and creating the quilted effect.

The SoundHouse

“Working with a forward thinking client such as the University of Sheffield allowed careyjones to really push the design boundaries for the Soundhouse. The pioneering ‘music box’ design creates a stunning piece of architecture that sits well as part of the dynamic urban fabric, respecting important existing and new buildings in the surrounding area,” said Mike Harris, Director at careyjones architects. “Furthermore, the overall aesthetic of the black rubber quilt is intended as a literal translation of the need to acoustically contain the building’s use contained within. As a practice we look forward to strengthening our relationship with the University and continuing our work in Sheffield.”